Working as a freelancer in UAE? Here is what you should know about the freelancer visa

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Alongside many new initiatives to encourage an influx of executives to join the UAE population from around the world the UAE government launched the freelance visa in 2020. The license provides a long-needed platform for individual freelancers and entrepreneurs to set up and obtain a residence visa and sponsor family members at lower entry costs and requirements.

Previously, only UAE residents were eligible for a license of this kind and the business activities which were included under the license were limited to fields such as media and finance. This freelancer license is now in mainland Abu Dhabi (DED) and the range of activities is much more comprehensive with 48 different activities now listed. 

If you intend to apply for the freelancer license, you must be able to demonstrate that you have the relevant skillset and you must obtain prior approval if your chosen activity is related to your regular job. If you work in the public sector, you must have approval from your employer to apply. For those that work in the private sector, employer approval is only required if the activity you intend to practice overlaps with your regular job. Office space is not compulsory.

The Freelancer License is effectively a Sole Establishment License. No UAE Partner/Shareholder or NSA / Sponsor is required and so this visa can be 100% foreign owned.

The owner/freelancer must have a degree, high level qualification or certified experience document in the particular activity and specialism selected. The degree or high-level qualification or certified experience document will need to be attested, legalized and legally translated with MOFA stamp for use in the UAE to qualify.

Once the license is in place the owner can also open a corporate bank account. There are a number of banks that will set up a corporate account for a Freelancer license although the setup is dependent on a number of factors and is case by case with each bank.

There are a number of banks that allow freelancers and SMEs to set up with a zero-balance account, with no deposit required – as opposed to the standard corporate account which can require a deposit of 50,000 plus in order to open the account.

The Freelancer will require the following documents to open a corporate bank account:

  1. Freelancer DED Trade License 
  2. Passport, UAE Visa and Emirates ID copy of the 100% owner and signatory (needs an Investor Visa against the Freelancer License)
  3. Address proof of the company and the individual owner
  4. 3 months bank statements of the company (if existing) or the owner (if new company)
  5. At least one Invoice of a customer or supplier

The freelancer Visa opens up opportunities for entrepreneurs throughout the UAE and is yet another way in which the UAE government is encouraging talent to grow in the country. PRO partner group have become specialists in supporting Freelancers set up and we can be contacted on info@ppg.ae for further information.